Mass. Senate candidates spar on abortion, gay marriage

The five candidates running for U.S. Senate. Top row (from left): Republicans Gabriel Gomez, Michael Sullivan and Daniel Winslow; bottom row, Democrats Ed Markey, left, and Stephen Lynch.
The five candidates running for U.S. Senate. Top row (from left): Republicans Gabriel Gomez, Michael Sullivan and Daniel Winslow; bottom row, Democrats Ed Markey, left, and Stephen Lynch.

The five candidates running in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election sparred on social issues Wednesday, staking out opposing views on abortion and gay marriage in the first debate to feature candidates from both parties.

But even those who took more conservative stances tried to draw a line between their personal beliefs and existing laws, in a nod to the liberal views of many of the New England state’s voters.

On the Republican side, former Boston U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan was the one candidate to express opposition both to abortion and gay marriage — the latter issue the topic of Supreme Court arguments Tuesday and Wednesday.

In 2003, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Stephen Lynch said he opposed abortion, though he said he regarded the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized it, as “established law” not likely to be overturned.

“Attacking Roe v. Wade won’t make abortions go away, it’ll just change the setting … to one that is more dangerous for women,” said Lynch.

Early polls show Lynch trailing fellow Democratic Rep. Edward Markey among decided voters, though they also show that a large portion of the electorate has not yet determined how they will vote in the April 30 primary and June 25 special election to fill the seat formerly held by Secretary of State John Kerry, a Democrat.

Markey, who also holds a lead over Republican contenders in early polls, said that access to abortion “has to be protected at all costs.”

Sullivan’s Republican rivals, Daniel Winslow, a state representative, and Gabriel Gomez, a private equity executive, said they supported both access to abortion and gay rights, positions at odds with many members of their party.

“If two people are in love, they should be able to get married. I support repealing DOMA,” said Gomez, in reference to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, a law signed by former President Bill Clinton that denies federal benefits to same-sex married couples.

Sullivan called himself a “traditionalist” on marriage, telling reporters after the debate “marriage is between one man and one woman.” However, noting that he believed states should determine laws regarding marriage, he said he also supported the repeal of DOMA, adding that he believed that same-sex couples married in Massachusetts should enjoy “all the same benefits” as heterosexual couples.

Winslow supported both gay marriage and abortion rights.

“I am a big-tent Republican when it comes to social issues,” he said, referring to party members who have an inclusive view. “Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the United States, and I support a women’s right to choose.”

One-third of the Senate is up for re-election in 2014. The Republicans hold 45 Senate seats to the Democrats’ 53, and there are two independents.

Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick in January named his former chief of staff, William “Mo” Cowan, to serve as interim senator until the election. Cowan is not running in the special election.

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBos



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Apple says its systems not to blame for…

By Edwin Chan and Christina FarrSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The week before a crucial launch of its new iPhone, Apple Inc said intimate photos of…

Local

Tallest residential building planned for lower Manhattan

A residential tower planned for lower Manhattan will soar 1,356 feet in the air -- just 12 feet shy of 1 World Trade Center. When…

Local

Bronx man commits suicide by decapitation

A Bronx man committed suicide Monday morning in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx by decapitating himself. According to the NYPD, the 51-year-old man…

Local

Top cops enroll in Twitter course at John…

NYPD officers are reportedly getting a lesson on the best way to use 140 characters or less. The New York Post reported Tuesday top officers…

Arts

Pop culture and prostitutes: New Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at…

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec documented the cult of celebrity and the rise of pop entertainment in his prints, posters and lithographs — now on display at MoMA.

Arts

PHOTO: Extreme artist Eskil Ronningsbakken balances unicycle on…

Extreme artist’ Eskil Ronningsbakken balances on the edge of a cliff face at 4,600 feet – on a unicycle. The Norwegian travels across the globe, balancing over vertiginous ravines, tall…

Music

Hear two previously unreleased Adele songs

Missing some Adele in your life? Two previously unreleased songs from the singer have appeared online.

Music

Lincoln Center just made 'Lord of the Rings'…

Middle Earth already has sweeping vistas, a hero's journey and technology-revolutionizing special effects. But next April, the Lincoln Center will add another dimension to Peter Jackson's…

NFL

Michael Vick set to be weekly guest with…

Mike Francesa may need to backtrack from his harsh commentary of Michael Vick now that the Jets backup quarterback will be a weekly guest on his show.

NFL

Jets expect to make playoffs after sitting on…

The same pundits who predicted the Jets would be woeful a season ago are now eying the playoffs for this revamped team.

NFL

Antonio Allen returns to practice after concussion

Antonio Allen was cleared to practice again following his concussion two weeks ago.

Sports

Belinda Bencic leads crop of young stars serving…

Belinda Bencic, a 17-year-old Swiss Miss, beat two Top-10 players before suffering a disappointing loss Tuesday in the quarterfinals.

Parenting

In defense of making a mess during playtime

"Recipes for Play" authors Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener think playtime should involve the five senses and making a mess is part of the fun.

Wellbeing

Jason Hope helps push anti-aging efforts forward

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article When it comes to age-related illness, the direction of modern medicine seems more reactive than proactive. In…

Wellbeing

Today's Doomsday preppers: a closer look at survivalist…

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. The term “Doomsday prepper” is often associated with the paranoid, anti-government stereotype of the 1990s. The truth…

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…